From Iceland — The Útlendingur’s Guide To Getting Shit Done: Make Friends

The Útlendingur’s Guide To Getting Shit Done: Make Friends

Published June 30, 2023

The Útlendingur’s Guide To Getting Shit Done: Make Friends
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Try your hand at making local friends

Making new friends in adulthood can be tough. Long gone are the days when you and another eager mini human bond over a shared love of the monkey bars on the school playground or are brought together by parents organising playdates. Add to your age the fact that so many Icelanders have maintained the same close group of friends since they were in playschool, and you’ll soon realise that making local friends is a tough nut to crack.

Seriously, after more than a decade here, my modest social circle consists of far more fellow immigrants than Icelanders, and based on how often the topic of making friends surfaces in expat groups on social media, I know I’m not alone in that reality.

The top tips that come up again and again for making friends are to join groups and pursue activities in order to foster connections with other participants. You will then, presumably, have to engage in conversation with strangers (ahem, future friends!) while engaging in those activities. 

Other tips include marrying an Icelander to inherit their friends through your legal bond (you’ve got them now!) and to have children so that Icelandic parents of your childrens’ friends will at least have to acknowledge your presence. I don’t recommend having children solely for the prospect of making friends, though. It turns out receiving a cursory glance from Hildur’s mamma in the playschool fataklefi is not as socially stimulating as you might have hoped it would be.

So bonding over shared interests or activities seems to be the way to go. But couple it with persistence. Make the first move. Break down their walls. Smother them with your friendship (within reason). Barring that, go back in time and figure out a way to have been born here and befriend people before you’re potty trained.

And don’t get caught up on the idea that you need Icelandic friends. Some of us immigrants are pretty decent company, too.

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